Well sitting with my colleagues at the G20 Media Centre watching on the big screen the G8 leaders strolling through the grounds of Deerhurst Resort - with Canada’s Stephen Harper in the lead with David Cameron and in the rear of the group, in fully animated discussion, Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy and Barack Obama. Looking at these leaders I was drawn back to the keynote remarks by Bruce Jentleson at our Leadership in the Global Governance Agenda – ‘Three Voices’ Conference.
Now beyond this precariously stretched segue from the G8 Muskoka Summit to the CIGI-Stanley Foundation-CICIR conference, held from June 10th-12th, all this summit activity has led me to leave unblogged this and other pre-summit conferences. So, this least I can do is to turn my attention back to some of the notable events. And notable among these events was the US keynote speech by Professor Bruce Jentleson on Friday night June 11th. Bruce is a professor of political science at Duke University in North Carolina with a longstanding interest in, and involvement with, US foreign policy. The title draws from Bruce’s speech that Friday evening at the pre-summit conference.
And now back to the segue. Bruce was very focused. He targeted his remarks on the leadership role of the United States in the ‘age of Obama’. Now Bruce has much to say that rings true. He acknowledges that the architecture question – what shape the Gx and the Bretton Woods-UN system - is not just about who is at the table but also what they do. – It is in other words about authority and capacity. Bruce focuses on whether on the issues of global governance “we are above or under water”. Are we in other words keeping ahead of the challenge or is the severity and pace of global governance challenges growing.
According to Jentleson, without statesmanship in leadership from the US, the problems will get worse. What the US must recognize, and what the current administration is coming to understand is that the US cannot achieve progress without others and without a better effort to convince Americans that the US must act in a more collaborative manner in what is after all a far more interdependent world.
Jentleson asserts that the US remains more powerful relative to other great powers but is neither a hegemon nor a superpower. In such a configuration, Jentleson declares, the great powers must develop a more positive form of global governance. What that means is these leaders must help reform current institutions that reflects a distribution of power that exists today not decades ago. So the IMF, the World Bank and the UN, particularly the Security Council, need to be reformed. The United States needs to be more in the lead with financial reform, trade, energy and climate change policies. These policies protect producer interests but not ordinary Americans.
And, Jentleson admits that the US needs to revise its own view partnership, which still remains mired in inequality. Without American leadership that adapts – recognizes collective leadership – focuses more on collective leadership and less on a top down approach – the less the prospect for successfully meeting the growing global governance challenges.
The United States remains a key actor; but the demand is for quite a different behavior.